Thursday, June 15, 2006

Day 68: Getting Lost

I've been lost a few times in my life. I don't think I'd ever intentionally get lost but there is something to be said for the opportunity of finding your way back or being found. It can be a life changing experience.

I remember wandering for several hours one night in Dublin. Eventually I realized that I had no idea where I was. I was hungry and I needed to use the bathroom something fierce. I had dreams of finding some fine dining but my need for a bio-break found me walking into the first hole-in-the-wall grease pit I came across. I wasn't there for the food, but in hopes of finding a bathroom. It became clear that the bathroom was not for lost passers-by so I ordered the fish and chips and made a beeline to the bathroom.

I ate some so-so fish and chips and then asked the proprietor for directions back to my hotel. Boy was I relieved to get my bearings again.

Sometimes we aren't physically lost but mentally, emotionally, or spiritually lost. During these times it also feels great to get your bearings again. It is hard to appreciate how good it is to be 'not lost' until you've been lost.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Day 67: I don't have to eat bugs

At the camp for young men that I helped with this past week one of the activities was a 'Fear Factor' activity. Each team of boys had to choose two out of their ranks that would compete. The reward - the right to eat dinner that night. Each boy threw a spear across a field toward a target painted on the ground. They ate what ever corresponded to the number closest to the spear. The items: sardines (not too bad), gold fish (just swallow, don't chew), live crickets (definitely chew), night crawlers (best when swallowed with water), and meal worms (apparently not much flavor but kind of crunchy).

I think I could eat any of these if necessary (or simply if dared to). In fact, I've eaten everything on this menu except gold fish at some point in my life. I guess I'm grateful for two things. 1) I don't have to eat bugs all of the time 2) Young men that somehow find this amusing (some even came back for seconds). I have some great video...

Day 66: The Word of God

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

2 Nephi 32:3
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

Isaiah 55:2
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Revelations 7:17
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

2 Nephi 4:15
And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

Day 65: Marlin

Marlin walked to Church with his wife last Sunday. He wasn't feeling well so he stepped out of the chapel to get some air. Shortly he came back in to get his wife to help him home. They walked around the corner to their house, hopped in the car and drove to the emergency room. Marlin passed away the next evening.

We both moved into the neighborhood about the same time. We first met about ten years ago in a landscaping class held by the community. Although he was much older than me we formed a quick bond in our love of beautiful landscapes.

It wasn't possible to talk with Marlin without feeling uplifted. He was a humble, happy person. He never pretended to be more than he was. The intent of this blog is to express those things daily for which I feel profound gratitude. Today I feel a profound gratitude for my dear friend Marlin.

Day 64: Sacrifice

A favorite hymn of mine, Praise to the Man, includes the phrase, "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." I know that is true. To sacrifice is to give up something of value for something of greater worth. The greatest people who have ever lived in this world are remembered in part because of their sacrifice. I wish the principle of sacrifice was more directly taught in the world to day. The world would be such a better place. It is hard for selfishness and sacrifice to co-exist. When we sacrifice our own desires or pleasures for what God would have us do, we are truly able to unlock the powers of heaven in our behalf.

I'm grateful for sacrifice it truly brings forth the blessings of heaven.

Day 63: Love

I've been thinking lately about what an amazing thing it is to love someone. I find that my heart is increasingly filled with love for all around me. It is becoming a tremendous force in my life. I'm beginning to believe that there is nothing that cannot be conquered by love. My heart grows larger and softer. I'm moved to tears several times a day by what I see around me, both the good and the bad. My life has found a new richness as I've increased my ability to love. I'm grateful that I can feel love.

Day 62: Sleeping out in Thunderstorms

I love extremes in nature. I think it is especially thrilling to be camping out during a great storm. Nature seems to peak in beauty during a thunderstorm. The power displayed is amazing. Nothing man made seems to compare except perhaps nuclear weapons. Is it that feeling of being in and a part of nature that I get from hunkering down in the mountains and waiting out a storm? Perhaps it is just the age old plot of man against nature that thrills me. It certainly has a way of centering me and humbling me. I've camped out through some nasty weather over the years. It amazes me now to think that there is one who can command and calm the storms.

We usually think of storms ending with a rainbow. This was the introduction to a spectacular night of rain, wind, hail, lightning, and thunder.

Day 61: Ropes and Logs

There is something exciting to me about the proposition of building things out of ropes and logs. Over the years I've built all kinds of towers, tables, tripods, bridges, you name it. It never ceases to amaze me how three little sticks lashed together can hold so much. This past week I taught about 80 teenage boys the basics of building things with ropes and logs. Their final test at the end of our time together was to build a tripod and see if it could support the weight of a 300 pound football player that was there with us. I was amazed to see a small tripod built from sticks about 3/4 inch in diameter hold the 300 pound lineman.

Here's a couple of snapshots of a monkey bridge I built to show the boys what could be done and to let them have some fun during the camp.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Day 60: How Gentle God's Commands

I was reflecting yesterday on a special experience I had while living out of the country for a couple of years. I had been out of the country for just over a year and was starting to feel somewhat worn out and home sick. Then I received a letter from my father where he shared that he had been feeling worn down and discouraged. He told of sitting in church and singing a hymn which raised him out of his gloom. I opened the hymnal and read the words to the hymn. My burden was also lifted. To this day it is one of my favorite hymns. It always uplifts me. It always reminds me of the very special experience I shared dwith my Dad that day through a letter. The hymn is titled, "How Gentle God's Commands." The Lyrics follow.

How gentle God's commands!
How kind his precepts are!
Come cast your burdens on the Lord
And trust His constant care.

Beneath His watchful eye,
His saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guard His children well.

Why should this anxious load
Press down your weary mind?
Haste to your Heav'nly Father's throne
And sweet refreshment find.

His goodness stands approved,
Unchanged from day to day;
I'll drop my burden at His feet
And bear a song away.

Day 59: Prayer

Prayer is a powerful force in my life. I pray often throughout my day. We pray as a family. We pray over our meals. Sometimes I just pray to express my gratitude. Other times I pray to ask for the Lord's blessings upon me, my family, and those that I care about. God hears and answers my prayers. Through prayer I can come to know him. I can feel him near me.

Yesterday my Mom sent this scripture reference to me.

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)

The Lord loves us so much and is so anxious to hear from us and bless us.

I also love the words of Jesus found in the book of Matthew chapter 7.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

I'm grateful for prayer.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Day 58: Socks in My Undershirt

I love pulling on a clean undershirt and finding one of my kid's socks stuck in the sleeve. It brings a smile to my face and centers me before I head out the door into the hectic world. One day I didn't find the baby sock until I got to work and it fell out of my shirt sleeve onto my desk. What a pleasant surprise!

Day 57: Eternal Families

I believe that families can be together forever. I was taught this in a powerful way from the time that I was young. I have a brother about a year and a half younger than me who died when he was about 18 months old. I think about him from time to time. I don't know how much I really remember him or the events surrounding his death. It seems to have always been a part of me. One of my most reinforced memories of my younger brother are the times we spent as a family around his grave. We would often sing the song, Families Can Be Together Forever. I'm grateful to know that families can be together forever.

Day 56: Toilet Paper

I'm grateful for toilet paper. Need I say more?

Day 55: The Leftovers of Play

Kids have a way of leaving leftovers from their play. You walk into the room where they were playing and see the remnants of a city or fort they built. Don't get me wrong, I want my kids to clean up after themselves but sometimes I come across some artifact of their play that is so choice I'm actually glad they didn't clean up.

Day 54: Mountain Hikes

On memorial day we brainstormed with the kids about what they'd like to do that day. They had many great ideas (including one who said "Learn to read!"). We voted and did the ones that had unanimous votes. Here's what we did.
  1. Go on a picnic and a hike in the mountains
  2. Have a barbeque
  3. Go to Narnia night at the botanical garden

We had a great time. Our hike however was the climax of the day. The air was amazingly clear. The temperature was just cool enough that you'd be warm as you hiked. We went about a mile up the trail and turned around to see an amazing view of our favorite mountain. It was wonderful to be together. It was great to feel invigorated as all of our sense were on overload from the sites, smells, and sounds around us. I love hiking in the mountains.

(see full sized image)

Day 53: Fresh Cut Flowers

Spring and summer in our home are accompanied by fresh cut flowers. My wife hates to see flowers go to waste. So she finds flowers that can't be seen easily out the window, patio, or the street and she cuts some in their prime. There are almost always fresh flowers on counter during spring and summer. I love their beauty. I love their scent. I love that the children love to smell them and look at them. I love that my wife loves them. Some people like to bring a pet in out of the heat. They feel an attachment or bond of some sort to their pets. We don't keep pets but we love to bring our flowers in close to us where we can get the maximum enjoyment from them.

Day 52: Fat Little Legs

One of the things I enjoy most about babies are their fat little legs. It seems that the plumper they are the more fun they are to hold, kiss, and watch. Isn't it odd how once you get to a certain age fat little legs are no longer cute? There is nothing better than a 12 month old in a onesie showing off gargantuine legs. At what age is this no longer cute and why? All I know is that one of the highlights of my summer so far is my baby boy and his chubby thighs.

Day 51: Exercise

I really like exercise. There is something about pushing your body to the limit that is invigorating. Your mind is more active. Life seems more productive. I have a goal to be able to keep up with my youngest child when he is 18. I'm grateful for a body that grows stronger when it is pushed. The process of tearing down a muscle and letting it regrow stronger is the the natural process of strengthening. It is how we grow stronger in so many ways, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I'm grateful for exercise.